For many months now we have gathered as seething masses in the musty halls of a simple but wonderful night class known only as #bikeschool. Some people pop in to wind down after a day at work, others set their biological clocks to tingle once a week at 9PM EST… and others well, others use it as a vehicle to explain their drinking behaviour! So how has #bikeschool EVOLved since it’s conception 9 months ago and who are the social media rascals behind this dastardly brilliant idea?
In August 2010 @bikerly, @egggman and @lovingthebike (henceforth known as ‘The Rascals’) blogged about the benefits of using the #bikeschool hashtag to bring people together and share lessons learned as part of the first Secret Evol Plan (Evol = Love backwards and even more dastardly than the regular evil) Those early days of the #hashtag sparked some enlightening discussions and in the words of @bikerly:
We’ve heard about kids flying free without training wheels and what this has meant for the parent. There have been stories shared about mountain biking, volunteerism, beer biking, icebiking, biking with a
family, and we’ve even had a couple Yogi Berrisms. It’s been amazing and fun to be part of this.
The idea of an hour slot on Twitter quickly became necessary, at the very least, to harness those fantastic stories, ideas and tips that were being spread across Twitter. So Thursday, October 21st at 9p EST was chosen to be the night The Rascals did the dirty and #bikeschool 1.0 was conceived.
Darryl (@lovingthebike) is the dude behind this wonderful hub… www.LovingTheBike.com. He’s a cycling-lifestyle blogger and a bone fide social media warrior who’s proud of the tremblings he’s helped created along the way. A native of Canada, but not made for their climate….Darryl escaped and spent a few years living in the Caribbean before returning to North America. He now lives in Austin, Texas with his family who mean the world to him. His life revolves around his family and cycling.
Darryl is no newcomer to the realm of social media. His cycling blog, is quickly becoming a favorite digital media home for bike lovers around the world. When not hard at work developing valuable strategies to launch his clients into social media stardom, this devoted husband, father of three, and avid cyclist can be found riding the back roads of the Texas Hill Country or conversing with clients and fans on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and so many other funky cool places.
Jim (@bikerly) grew up on a farm in Iowa, just on the outside of town with plenty of quiet streets to bike up and down on the way to the football games, school, the grocery store for baseball cards, Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone etc. He is a regular ‘beer running guy’ (Jim has been voted one of the Top 12 Beer Runners To Watch in 2011!), father of two boys, husband, runner and bike rider and manages to find enough love in his life for all of these things. Never taking things too seriously, you won’t find him on the turbo or doing hill repeats, Jim likes to take his riding slowly and often takes a camera with him, biking for fun and to get out of the house. That does not mean he’s any less of a bad ass though! He’s no stranger to winter riding and last year started ice-biking:
It was an arctic February day (-10 F) when I decided to get off the couch and go for a bike ride. It had been months since my last, but I was determined to kick Old Man Winter where the sun wasn’t shining.
Layers, face mask, goggles and gloves, I pedaled. My wife thought I was crazy. So did the neighbors. I loved it, and spent the rest of the weekend researching winter cycling gear. That weekend marked my addiction to icebiking. I continued biking through the Winter, taking pictures and facebooking the heck out of my adventures.
Mike (@egggman) is a true winter-riding warrior who regularly posts his gnarly rides to work through the snow covered suburbs of his home town on his blog, The Old Singlespeed. If you ride your bike for for no other reason than because you love it his videos will speak to you… they might make you want to head off on an Hawaiian vacation… but they speak volumes about the man himself. No further words are necessary… marvel in his awesomeness!!!!
Rise of the pedaltarian
So a time and date had been set, all that was needed other than the baying masses to fill the halls was someone to control the chaos. The Rascals took it in turns to run #bikeschool as ‘Professors’, asking questions every 15 minutes to give the hour a structure and to try and tempt tweeps to the front of the class rather than lurking, the idea being if you contribute to the session you will get more from it. As the weeks went on and people came back each time, connections and friendships were beginning to form and the 1 hour slot became a much more fluid affair. Gone was the feeling of waiting for that week’s professor to ask a question so you could answer. It now really felt like a room full of like minded people chatting about 1 subject and the ‘Prof’ questions molded and stimulated these conversations; some class-wide, some more personal (#YouKnowWho).
Possibly the most influential part of the EVOLution so far has been the introduction of guest professors into the proceedings. By doing this The Rascals ensured that sessions remained fresh and current and showed an understanding that their creation was now bigger than the sum of its parts and was an offering to the biking community. Although ‘guesting’ provides it’s own nervousness and trepidation, within the #bikeschool community it is a privileged, sought after position and enables people to inject their personality into the session.
As we turned our backs on the decade that was and pressed on into 2011 the attendance numbers rocketed and #bikeschool quickly became much bigger than it’s conceived 1 hour slot with the hashtag pinging Twitter clients 7 days a week. A class regular and #bikeschool stalwart, Groucho Sports, were quick to help when the masses demanded a #bikeschool jersey. A collaboration between The Rascals, the designer Bob Avery (@BobRidesABike) and Groucho Sports soon followed and the #bikeschool jersey is now available and can be seen around the globe.
The most recent change for #bikeschool has been the move of it’s supporting blog away from the original Tumblr location to nestle very nicely here at LovingTheBike.com. I’ve been involved with The Rascals for a while now and felt truly honored when asked to provide the weekly updates for the blog and be part of the LovingTheBike.com family. With no credible history of writing or blogging to my name it was a risky audible from a well honed play book but it is another example of how The Rascals are trying to move #bikeschool forward and broaden it’s demographic and appeal as well as making time for them to sink their teeth into new and even more EVOL secret plans. I hope this new home for us is going to be a fruitful one and we always welcome your comments, advice, suggestions and requests here or on twitter about what you want to see on the #bikeschool blog which has already seen 2 fantastic interviews courtesy of British Road Race Champion and Team Sky rider, Geraint Thomas and Bike Pure creator Andy Layhe.
Ladies, gentlemen and those in between, please be upstanding for a toast…. To The Rascals! And all that may follow them!